Proteas

Sidelined Kapp in tears, but Proteas Women 'more than cricketers'

Dane van Niekerk (left) and Marizanne Kapp (Getty)
Dane van Niekerk (left) and Marizanne Kapp (Getty)

The disappointment on the faces of the Proteas following their 5-run (DLS) semi-final loss to Australia at the T20 Women's World Cup on Thursday was there for all to see.

Captain Dane van Niekerk was brave, fighting back tears, while wicketkeeper Trisha Chetty couldn't contain herself and broke down. 

They were familiar scenes when it comes to South Africa at Cricket World Cups and, once again, a nation got behind a side that fell just short when it mattered most. 

The fact that these women have no professional provincial cricketing structures back home makes the achievement of the Proteas in Australia all the more impressive. To run the world champions, tournament hosts and current top ranked side in the world that close, given how far behind South African women's cricket remains, is something special. 

Cricket South Africa (CSA) is doing everything it can to close the gap, but without the professional structures in place it will always be a race they are losing. 

Still, the South Africans have slowly gone about solidifying themselves as one of the best sides in world cricket, in both ODI and T20 cricket. 

There was an undeniable belief in the squad this time around, and as Van Niekerk said after the semi-final: "I thought tonight was the night, but it wasn't meant to be. I had a calm heart about it when I came to ground, come rain or shine."

The skipper was wearing a smile in her post-match press conference at the Sydney Cricket Ground, but she had been dealing with tears even before a ball was bowled on Thursday. 

Van Niekerk's wife, Marizanne Kapp, also happens to be one of South Africa's most dangerous weapons given her abilities with both bat and ball. 

A nasty virus, however, saw Kapp ruled out of the semi-final against her own will. It was a difficult decision for almost all involved, but not for Van Niekerk. 

"The culture within this team is that we are more than just cricketers. We are wives, we are daughters, we are sisters, we are aunts ... we're a lot more than that," she said.

"For us, that comes first, and Kappy is my wife so I'm definitely not going to jeopardise her health. It's a game of cricket and your health ... I don't think it's worth it.

"She was dearly missed tonight, but I can't take anything away from anyone who played."

In Kapp's absence, Nadine de Klerk came in and was superb with the ball in claiming 3/19 (4), but Van Niekerk acknowledged that Kapp was missed. 

"She was pretty close (to playing), but as I said before we will never take chances when it comes to health. It doesn't matter how important the game is," said Van Niekerk.

"Hopefully in the near future we will be in the same situation and she'll be there. 

"I was with her when the decision was made, and it was very difficult to get her to accept it. She was in tears and very emotional, but I have to give credit to Nadine de Klerk. What a standout performance with the ball. It shows you the quality that we have."

With the rain having threatened all day to wash the match out, a 'no result' would have seen South Africa progress to the tournament final because they had finished top of their pool while Australia finished second in theirs. 

It would been a historic moment for South African cricket, with no senior side - men or women - having ever competed in a World Cup final. 

For Van Niekerk, though, that was not the way she wanted it to happen. 

"I'd rather lose than get a free pass into the World Cup final," she said.

The next T20 World Cup will take place in 2022 and will be hosted in South Africa.

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